Sunday, August 29, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Dead as a dodo ... you've heard that phrase before, but is the dodo really gone? Is it really extinct?
Well, is our good friend, Raphus cucullatus, aka Didus ineptus, really gone? If so, how would you know, statisticall speaking that is?
When I was in Canberra recently, I learned a little bit more about just what it means to be extinct, and it's not quite as clear-cut as you may think.
While attending some meetings for the Biodiversity Heritage Library (specifically, the kick-off meeting for the BHL-Australia project), a colleague, knowing my fondness for dodos, gave me a copy of Decision Point (a monthly magazine of the Applied Environmenta Decsicion Analysis research hub.
In this April 2010 issue was a great article by Tracy Rout, "Dead as a Dodo?" that gave some very interesting statistical models of how scientists can determine if a species is, indeed, extinct.
By using a number of quantifiable metrics (e.g. confirmed sightings, time since last confirmed sighting, commonality of sighting, etc.), the statistical probability that a given species is extinct can be calculated and assigned a value. For the dodo, the likelihood of finding one (outside of my blogposts and avatars of course!) is a itny 3.07 x 10^-6.
Why is this important? Well, for some species with a high probability of extinction, there's not really much value in this calculation). But for other species, where there is still a statistical possibility of being extant, a range of other financial and environmental managment factors come into play.
For instance, if it was known that the ivory billed woodpecker might still be alive, actions could be taken to preserve the habitat and investigate locating the survivors (sadly, the statistical probability of the ivory bill still beingg extant is a minimal 1.78 x 10 ^-13 - actually lower than the dodo because there were more historic sightings of the ivory bill than of dodos).
So, though there isn't much hope for the dodo or the ivory billed woodpecker, there are still surprises, the so-called "Lazarus Species", thought to be extinct, and in probability extinct, but which rise from the ultimate exit. Rout and his co-authors point out the yellow-spotted bell frog as an example (and don't forget one of my favorite species, the coelocanth).
For more, see the full article:
Rout, TM, D Heinze & M McCarthy (2010). Optimal allocation of conservation resources to species that may be extinct. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.111/j.1523-1739.2010.01461.x
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
Monday, August 09, 2010
So, what's on B17 up there you may ask (note: that's an obscure Olivia Newton-John reference)?
Well, it changes all the time, but there are a few persistent tunes that always seem to be there and up they pop up all the time. What are they, well ...
- "No Reply" by The Beatles
- "Let It Rain" by Eric Clapton
Those to are pretty regular and have been on heavy rotation for years (especially "Let It Rain"). In the past fifteen years or so, "Wonderwall" by Oasis has been popping up at the oddest moments (what's that all about????).
And remind me to tall you about that Jade Transistor Radio box sometime!
"and maybe, you're gonna be the one to save me ... 'cause afterall, you're my wonderwall ..."